This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
FAMILY BUSINESS Skills research


PERSPECTIVES NEW


Nils Johnson outlines the fi ndings of recent research into family businesses that explored how members’ skillsets and business practices could be improved to support family business owners


NILS JOHNSON IS A FOUNDER OF SPENCE JOHNSON


FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESSES face specifi c challenges that are diff erent from private individuals, limited companies or plcs. Family business owners are often both company directors and controlling shareholders, and their personal wealth and corporate responsibilities are completely entwined. Due to their complex nature, these types of businesses pose challenges and opportunities for advisory professionals such as lawyers, bankers and accountants. However, many family businesses feel that advisors lack some of the necessary interpersonal and business skills to work eff ectively with multiple generations of family business stakeholders, and this is more often due to complex family dynamics than to lack of technical competence. This perceived mismatch between advisory skills and service is frustrating for family business owners and professional advisors alike, so STEP and the Institute for Family Business commissioned new research to explore how members’ skillsets and business practices can be improved to support family business owners. The research, which consisted of focus groups and interviews with family business owners and advisors, has highlighted new perspectives on how outcomes for families and their advisors can be improved. These include broadening skills beyond technical competences, adopting business practices from other professions and overcoming barriers to working more collaboratively.


WWW.STEPJOURNAL.ORG


Beyond technical planning With clear demand for business advice and ample supply of advisory talent, what could be the problem? The good news is that families recognise and value the support that advisors can give them. As one owner put it, ‘the diff erence between being a successful family owner and an unsuccessful family owner is whether or not you’re savvy enough to choose the right advisors and use them in the right way’. However, there is a general feeling that advisors appear to be lacking the breadth of skills that family businesses need. As one business owner said, ‘there is ego, arrogance, lack of empathy and a real lack of credibility from not having done it before’, and this poor skillset is compounded by the way that advisors often focus on transactions: ‘Most of the professional side is actually deal-driven’.


Experienced practitioners recognise that skills beyond professional qualifi cations are required to be eff ective advisors to family businesses. One advisor underlined the importance of his people- based skills when he said: ‘You don’t graduate with your accountancy qualifi cation and then suddenly fi nd that you can do this’. Indeed, the traditional technical qualifi cations of most professionals are no longer seen as suffi cient: ‘You have to bring in all these diff erent strands of ability and knowledge that go far beyond your technical skills’. It is now recognised that to be eff ective, advisors ‘need to be technically absolutely sound’, but also spend most of their time ‘talking about the soft stuff ’.


APRIL 2013 33


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84